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Not Following The New Normal

IT workers are leaving their jobs. It must be true. It’s been reported on the internet.

IT workers are refusing to work in an office. It must be true. It’s been reported on the internet.

IT workers are taking less money to focus on work/life balance. It must be true. It’s been reported on the internet.

That’s the new normal. Well, it’s part of the new normal. But, whether this is exactly the new situation or not, the world is changing. IT is changing right along with it.

Which makes my new job so much of an anomaly.

In my new job I’m not leaving, I’m joining. Despite what the internet says.

My company works exclusively in the office. Despite working the last two years remotely at my previous company. And despite what the internet says.

My new job represents a not insignificant raise from my previous position. Despite what the internet says.

And, unlike my previous position, my new job has zero after hours work. None. In my previous position I was on call. . For the first five years. And after that, I was still likely to be called into projects and maintenance at all hours.

But, the new job, I don’t even take my laptop home. There’s nothing to do. We don’t have a VPN, or if we do, I don’t have access to it.

The world has gone crazy over the past 18 months. And the craziness doesn’t show any sign of letting up. Is this a new normal? I have no idea. But, even in chaos we still have our own path to follow. Our own normal to build.

I’m glad my new normal isn’t what has been reported on the internet.

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

Follow him on
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or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2021 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

You Should Have Mentioned That In The Interview

When you join a small company chances are you are going to interview with most of the company. That’s what happened with my current company. My company has 9 employees in our SLC offices. Ten now that you count me. There were a couple of developers that I didn’t meet with, but I interviewed with just about everyone else.

Knowing that they all got to weigh in on my position gives me great reassurance. But, after I started work I realized they forgot to ask an important question during the interview process.

My drink of choice is Cherry Coke. I like the taste. But, I also drink it because I have severe adult ADH and I don’t want to take Ritalin or other drugs. ADHD is an interesting condition. In fact, many people don’t believe it exists. So, they don’t believe I have it, and it must just be my addiction to caffeine that makes me think I need sugary drinks.

I envy those people. They’ve never had to watch a daughter suffer through a useless year of kindergarten because she has undiagnosed ADD and literally cannot sit still long enough to even color a picture. Those people have never watched their son ostracized from social groups because ADHD makes him respond awkwardly in social settings.

Yes, I envy them. ADHD is real. May you never be cursed with it.

Anyway, I drink Cherry Coke, for the taste. . .and to help me concentrate.

Apparently this has caused a small controversy at my new job. See, the office drink is Mountain Dew.

Mountain Dew, along with stale pizza, is so much a part of software lore that it’s become a cliche. A cliche that is true more often than not. And my new office mates drink it.

My brother used to drink a lot of Mountain Dew. I think he may have given it up in the past few years. But, at one point is was his favorite drink. (He also has ADD, not sure about the HDD part.) He was in Canada at one point giving a presentation and asked for some Mountain Dew. After drinking a couple of cans, his office mates said,

In Canada, Mountain Dew doesn’t have caffeine in it.

Of course it does! All Mountain Dew has caffeine.

Turns out that at that time Canada had a law that caffeinated drinks had to come in a red can. (Coke and Pepsi have red on their cans, not so much Mountain Dew.)

But, in the United States, Mountain Dew has caffeine. And my office mates think there’s something wrong because I “drink that brown stuff.”

All I can say is that if it was important to them they should have brought it up during the interview.

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

Follow him on
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or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2021 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

Awards You Cannot Display

This is a project shirt. It’s a shirt that everyone on the project team was awarded after the project was over. It was a really important project. We spent two years and logged thousands of miles. The core team was about 12 people.

We called the project the “3P VOIP” project. It was a terrible name. 3P indicated that we were “third party.” We weren’t USAA employees. VoIP is an acronym for “Voice over IP.” Basically, it means using the internet to make phone calls. Most office phone systems are ALREADY using the VoIP protocol.

Our project was to switch over from a VoIP hard phone to a VoIP softphone. A hard phone is a physical device that sits on your desk. It has a handset, a keypad, typically a headphone jack. You pick up the handset and you near a dial tone.

A softphone is a piece of software that runs on your computer. Zoom has softphone capabilities. Our “VOIP project” converted our 2000 agents from a hard phone to a softphone.

Anyway, I didn’t get to name the project. I would probably have named it after a mountain range or something.

Anyway, it was a very high profile project with A LOT of risk. And we nailed it. The project came in on time and on budget.

And we got a t-shirt. Okay, it’s a polo shirt, not a t-shirt. But, software has a long history of t-shirts to commemorate successful project launches and teams. This was my first team at Microsoft. I’m not sure why I even still have it.

And the VOIP Project shirts are not your generic $5 t-shirts. These are nice shirts with embroidered logos.

We couldn’t wear them. . .ever.

See, my company, Teleperformance, had a contract with our client, USAA. The contract specifically forbade employees from identifying the relationship with USAA IN ANY WAY. Our buildings, often dedicated to USAA business, had no markings identifying them as such. Even inside, until you went through the full-sized metal turnstiles, you were not allowed to show USAA logos. We were even forbidden to have lanyards that said USAA on them, because when our agents went outside to their cars, someone might see the lanyard.

This sounds silly, I know. But, it was deadly serious. All of this was written into the contracts. Violations were dealt with pretty severely. Like, you get fired if you break the rules.

And now, I had a beautiful new shirt that I was contractually forbidden to wear. It made me think about the wall at CIA headquarters in Langley, VA. Fallen agents are commemorated by a star. No names. No dates. Just a star to remember.

Now, my project IN NO WAY was comparable to the work that our agents and soldiers have to go through. But, just as they sometimes cannot be recognized for the work they do, neither could we.

So, why now? Why am I wearing the shirt today? And writing about it on the internet?

Well, I did not have an NDA and they laid me off back in May. I’m not going to share trade secrets. (And I still know a few.) And, I have nothing but the highest respect for both companies. It was a privilege to work at Teleperformance on the USAA account.

I’m just happy I can finally talk about it.

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

Follow him on
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or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2021 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

A New Record Every Night

Do you lose very much?

I lose. I’ve lost 134 times.

You count them?

This is baseball. We count everything

– Jane Aubrey and Pitcher Billy Chapel “For Love of The Game”

I love baseball. It appeals to my nostalgia streak. The organized game is 150 years old. Abner Doubleday (who didn’t invent it, but was an early player,) would very likely recognize today’s game even if he didn’t know some of the modern rules.

The greatest hitter of all time, Pete Rose described his philosophy on hitting,

See the ball, hit the ball.

Baseball games can be scored using a system that was developed by Englishman Henry Chadwick in 1859. We still use the same scoring system in today’s game.

  • Each position has a number starting with the Pitcher (P) being 1 through the Right fielder (RF) being number 9
  • BB – base on balls, or a walk
  • CS – caught stealing
  • DP – double play (two outs on a single play)
  • S – Sacrifice fly

There’s an entire alphabet. One of the most interesting is the letter for a Strikeout. It’s a K. Why not an S? That was already used for Sacrifice fly. A Sacrifice fly is when the ball is caught in the air but a runner is able to advance.

It’s possible to reconstruct an entire baseball game from the box score.

That’s another attraction that baseball has for me, it’s all about the numbers. There’s loads of strategy during a baseball game. There are pitcher/batter matchups. There are defensive shifts. There is the double switch (when a position player replaces the pitcher.) In fact, there are innumerable permutations of players, plays, balls and strikes.

And, as Billy Chapel said, baseball counts everything. And that leads to records. Many records. Some records are easy to understand.

  • 2,632: Most games played in a row. (Cal Ripken)
  • 262: Most hits in a single season (Ichiro)
  • 4,256: Most hits in a career (Pete Rose)
  • 130: Stolen bases in a season (Ricky Henderson)
  • 116: Most wins in a season (2001 Seattle Mariners and 1908 Chicago Cubs)

I could go on. Literally, I could go on forever. And that’s the other beauty of baseball. There is no clock. Games could go on forever.

Their are other records you’ve probably never heard of.

  • 50: Most hit by pitches (Ron Hunt)
  • 3: Fewest home runs allowed in a season (Reggie Cleveland)
  • 3: Fewest times striking out for a season (Joe Sewell)

But, since every pitch, every strike, and every put out is recorded, it’s possible to create virtually any record on any night.

  • One Grand Slam from each side of the plate in the same game: (Bill Mueller)
  • Two Grand Slams in the same inning (Fernando Tatis Sr)
  • Multiple hits for two different teams in the same day (Joel Youngblood)
  • Pitched a perfect game (no hits or walks) for 12 Innings and lost (Harvey Haddix)

That’s the beauty of baseball. Literally, every night something happens that hasn’t happened before. Sometimes it’s noteworthy. Sometimes it’s mundane. But, every night it’s new. And if nothing else, every game you watch is one more in your own personal “games watched streak.”

Yup. Every night is a brand new record.

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

Follow him on
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or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2021 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

Two Disasters: One By Man The Other By God

No one thought it would happen this fast. Disasters are like that. Maybe that’s one of the things that makes them a disaster: the speed at which things do South.

When America started our War on Terror, George W Bush, who was president at the time, said it might take us 20 years to win. He was right and wrong. Here it is 20 years later, almost to the day of the attacks on New York, the Pentagon and America. And the war is over. So, he was right. But, we didn’t win. We lost. So, he was wrong.

This is not a political post; it’s an anti-political posts. As Mercutio curses on his death bed,

A plague o’ both your houses!

It’s often quoted as “pox” instead of plague. Mercutio was cursing the Montagues and the Capulets in Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” Act III, Sc 1. But, he might as well have been talking to the Democrats and the Republicans.

  • George W Bush got us into the war!
  • A majority of senate Democrats supported the war!
  • Bill Clinton didn’t kill Osama bin Laden when he had the chance!
  • Dick Cheney wanted the war for his Halliburton buddies!
  • Obama had eight years to end the war and didn’t!
  • Trump negotiated with the Taliban!
  • Biden pulled the troops out that led to the collapse!

There’s plenty of blame to go around. Shakespeare could have written this script, or maybe Cicero.

The fact is that we are leaving. And while everyone expected the Taliban to make gains, no one thought that they’d take the capital in 36 hours. Twenty years, a trillion dollars, scores of dead soldiers and thousands of dead Afghanis. And we are literally shooting civilians on the runway to make room for our planes to escape.

We were so busy trying to avoid “another Vietnam” during the fighting that we forgot the ending. No, we don’t have pictures of helicopters rising off a rooftop with desperate civilians clinging to it. Instead we have pictures of C-17 cargo ships taking off with civilians clinging on the outside until they finally dropped to their death.

Pray for the people of Afghanistan. Pray for those how helped us. Pray for the women who face untold horrors. Pray for the children. Pray for all of us.

I didn’t expect to write about Afghanistan today. I try to avoid polarizing topics and nothing is more polarizing than politics. Instead I thought I would be writing about another disaster. Saturday the country of Haiti was hit by a magnitude 7.2 earthquake. We don’t know the death toll yet. We may not ever know. But, it’s going to be higher than the 1000 that have been confirmed so far.

Haiti still hasn’t recovered from the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that struck the capital of Port au-Prince eleven years ago. The death toll this time will less than the 250,000 that died in 2010.

Haiti is personal to me. It has been for a long time. And it’s only become more personal over time.

It’s not just that I’ve been to Haiti. Many people have visited Haiti. There’s a beautiful beach that the cruise lines established called Labadee Shores. It’s gorgeous. It’s also not like the rest of Haiti. Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and one of the poorest in the world. Labadee Shores was my first visit to Haiti, but my last was to Port au-Prince. My lovely wife and I were adopting four children.

Adoption, especially an open adoption where the adopted and birth parents meet, is a strange operation. They are my kids, in every sense except blood. And they are also the children of their birth parents.

We adopted our kids before the earthquake. After the earthquake, we were able to confirm that their mother survived. Haiti has stayed in our thoughts and prayers ever since.

My children, all grown now, are not the only connection to that beautiful island nation. One of my daughters, born in Colombia, married a man from Haiti. He’s a good man. He’s a hard worker. He just finished basic training in the United States Army Construction Engineering Corps.

After the earthquake this weekend, he was able to confirm that his family is safe.

The year we adopted our kids there was a coup that deposed the president, a hurricane and several other disasters. Haiti is like that. There’s always another issue. This year, the president was assassinated, the earthquake struck, and tropical storm Grace is bearing down on Haiti this week.

Pray for the people of Haiti. Pray for the ones suffering from the earthquake. Pray for the families. And especially pray for the children.

I know I am.

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

Follow him on
Twitter (@rodneymbliss)
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LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com/in/rbliss)
or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2021 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

Problems That Aren’t Problems Elsewhere

It wasn’t really a problem. It was actually just an inconvenience. Honestly, probably not even inconvenience. More of an annoyance.

A couple days ago my lovely wife broke a rule that I have for my kids. They were quick to point out to her that she broke the rule. It’s not a rule for her. But, she showed why it’s a rule for the kids.

Don’t leave the kitchen while you are cooking.

It seems obvious, right? I mean, if you are cooking then you need to be there to. . .well, cook. But, pasta requires 9-11 minutes to cook. Sauces, require even more. Raman, which I’m not even convinced is really food, “cooks” in just a few minutes.

Now, my rule isn’t unreasonable. If you are baking something. If you put something in the crockpot. Even if you put something on a low simmer. Sure. But, when you are cooking something, actively cooking it, you should stay in the room.

Every outrageous law exists because someone actually tried it.

Of course, there’s a reason for my rule. My son, I don’t want to say which one, but he was the one most opposed to the “stay in the kitchen” suggestion, put a pan of ramen on. And then he went to the mall. I was in the garage. The smoke alarms do NOT sound enough like “your house is filling up with smoke, you’d better get in there.” No, from the garage they sound more like, “Hey, someone left their alarm clock on. . .again.”

We didn’t set off the smoke alarms this most recent time. And it wasn’t a pot of ramen, it was a pot of boiled chicken. My lovely wife was cooking up some chicken that had thawed out. And she was boiling it. And the “bubbles” were a lot deeper than she thought.

Anyway, it burned and filled the house with a little smoke and a lot of stink. We did what everyone does in this case. We opened the front and back door and the windows. We turned on ceiling fans and bathroom fans. And then we waited for the smell to clear out.

It’s been very smokey here in Utah of the past few weeks. Fortunately, most of the forest fire smoke has cleared out. And after about an hour or so, the smell had cleared out enough to shut the doors and windows.

And that’s when the problem showed up.

Flies.

Flies have been around for longer than people. And as long as people have been around they’ve been trying to keep flies out of their houses. We don’t have screen doors anymore. Instead we have air conditioning. We don’t open the doors to cool off the house. In fact, we keep them shut to keep it cool.

We had dozens of flies in our house. They were. . .annoying. Not really bothering anything. In fact, many of them took up residence on our cathedral ceilings. But, it bugged me.

I went on a bug hunt. I started tracking the flies and killing them one by one. If you try to “swat” a fly with your hand, it actually helps the fly get away. Your hand presses a wave of air in front of it. The fly simply let’s go and flies away on the wave.

To effectively kill flies with your hands start with your hands spread wide apart and bring them toward the fly slowly from opposite sides. When your hands are about 9 inches apart quickly slap them together. The fly will attempt to fly away and fly right up in between your hands.

Oh, and then go wash your hands, flies are pretty dirty.

And that has annoyed me for the last two days. I’m still finding flies. But, I think they are afraid of me. They are avoiding me.

But, many places a single fly in your home is not only not an annoyance, inconvenience or problem, it’s not even noticeable.

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

Follow him on
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or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2021 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

So. . . Tell Us About Yourself

I went to lunch with my boss and my new team today.

Rodney, what kind of food do you like?

Honestly, I’m the easy person to go to lunch with.

We went to a nice BBQ place in South Salt Lake City. I would have been just as happy with Chinese, or sandwiches or vegetarian. I really am that easy to please.

As we got our food, my boss and the other two project managers gathered around one of the small dining tables.

So, Rodney, tell us a little about yourself.

I’m never sure how to answer that. Are you? My life is a pretty full. I have hopes, dreams, disappointments, family, friends, funny stories, boring stories, unbelievable stories.

But, of course, they didn’t want to hear all that. It’s a small company and we are going to be working pretty closely together. It helps to put some context around the people people you work with. And I was the new guy, so it’s them getting to know me. There’ll be plenty of time for me to learn about them as time goes on.

But, what things do you pick when someone wants to know about you? I picked family first off.

I have 13 children.

Really?

Yeah, it’s not necessarily something you bring up in during the interview.

I mentioned the camping and hiking, a passion that my boss shares. Although, it sounds like he is a more enthusiastic hiker than I am.

I also talked about the Follow The Flag organization. We fly the largest free flying US Flag in the world from a canyon just up the road from my house every July 4th week.

I offered enough to be polite, and then let the conversation turn to other topics.

But, it made me think about how we answer the question of “Tell me about yourself.” What topics are most important to your sense of self? Is it your passion for dance? Your grandkids? Your immaculate lawn?

The conversation turned to cars. I repeated with some pride the fact I drive a car with virtually no automated features; standard transmission, no power windows, no power locks. It has a radio and AC. Oh, and it has 289,000 miles. When it hits 300,000 I think I’m going to have it painted.

I’m enjoying my new position. I think I’m going to really enjoy my coworkers. Eventually, they’ll tell me about themselves.

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

Follow him on
Twitter (@rodneymbliss)
Facebook (www.facebook.com/rbliss)
LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com/in/rbliss)
or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2021 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

Icarus The Network Engineer

I don’t remember the movie. A character is afraid of flying. Even after his fellow passengers explain the science behind the Bernoulli effect and jet engines, he’s not convinced.

If the gods struck down Icarus for flying too close to the sun, imagine what they will so when this monstrosity roars through the skies.

The theory behind flight is well understood. And yet, who can look at a 200 ton 747 jumbo jet without questioning the science. . .at least a little.

My son-in-law is a professional airline pilot. He’s logged thousands of hours in everything from a single engine Cessna to a multi-engine passenger jet. And yet, I still have trouble believing he can lift thousands of pounds of aircraft off terra firma and deposit it again safely thousands of miles away.

I’m a computer expert. I’m not bragging when I say that. It’s just what I’ve been trained in. I have more certifications than I can remember. I’ve helped write software certification exams. I’ve written computer books and magazine articles.

There was a time when “the computer guy” knew pretty much everything there was to know about computers. Those days are long gone. But, I do know networks and how computers talk to each other. I’ve written training courses on how networks communicate.

And yet, like the cobbler’s poor children, my home network often has been a mess. I finally decided I was going to clean it up. I ran some network cable to my new office. I installed jacks and computer “plugs” called RJ-45 connectors. I’ve had multiple WIFI networks for the past year. And then I broke one a few months ago.

So, I set out to “fix” my home network. As I moved devices around (computers, TVs, gaming consoles, cameras,) at times stuff didn’t work that should have. And other times stuff did work when it shouldn’t have.

They say that when a scuba diver gets disoriented underwater they need to “follow the bubbles.” It’s possible to confuse up for down when swimming under water without a fixed reference point. But, bubbles ALWAYS go up. So, even if you believe “up” is one direction, if the bubbles are going the other way, you have to trust the bubbles.

Living in Utah, avalanches are a danger. The advice to avalanche victims is similar to scuba divers. But, instead of bubbles going up, spit goes down. If you can create a breathing hole during the avalanche let some spit dribble out of your mouth. The spit will ALWAYS go down. So, start digging in the opposite direction. (Oh, and take an avalanche beacon. Doesn’t fit my example, but it’s the best way to prepare for an avalanche.)

When computer networks, the same principle applies. If you design the network properly, especially if you are changing an existing configuration, you have to trust that all the pieces will do what they are supposed to do.

It’s like Novocaine. Just give it time, it always works

– Coach Herman Boone Remember The Titans

When a computer, or any device, joins a network, the device will go out and ask for the correct configuration information; IP Address, IP Mask, DNS server, default gateway.

The information is provided by something called the DHCP server. And the information is called a lease. The lease has an expiration date and time. The thing the device sometimes won’t go look for a new DHCP lease until the old one expires. So, you can set a network up correctly, and when you first attach the devices they won’t be able to communicate or get to the internet. But, if you’ve done it correctly eventually it will work. . .just like Novocaine.

And yet, despite understanding everything I just said, I’m still surprised when I build a network and everything works. Especially if I had to redesign a broken system.

I feel like Icharus just waiting for the wax to melt.

It helps to draw a network map

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

Follow him on
Twitter (@rodneymbliss)
Facebook (www.facebook.com/rbliss)
LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com/in/rbliss)
or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2021 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

Something Just For Me

Most days, in fact, just about every day, when I consider what to put here, knowing that many of you trusted me with your time, I try to make it either entertaining, or funny, or informative, or hopefully useful.

Today is not that day. Today is just for me.

I got laid off back in May from Teleperformance after 7 years.

Today, I started a new position with a small software company in Salt Lake City. I’ll be a Project Manager. I’ll update my LinkedIn profile in a couple days if you are interested in the company name.

Many of you have offered help, advice, prayers, or just words of encouragement during this off time. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

I am very grateful.

And I’m grateful to have a job. It was through a friend who knew I was looking. It’s a great job. Better than my previous job: better salary, better benefits, less travel.

Definitely the second door that God opened when the other one closed.

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

Follow him on
Twitter (@rodneymbliss)
Facebook (www.facebook.com/rbliss)
LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com/in/rbliss)
or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2021 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

Better To Have And Not Need? Not Necessarily

Student: You teach me fighting, but talk of peace. How do you reconcile the two?

Master: It is better to be a warrior in a garden than a garden in a war.

I’m been involved with the Boy Scouts since I was 11 years old. The Boy Scout motto is

Be Prepared

It translates into multiple languages, of course. I once found this item in a pawn shop in Athens. I asked the shop keeper,

What do the words mean?

Ah. . .”be ready”

Close enough for me.

I no longer do much with the scouts, but I’ve tried to live my life by that motto. But, being prepared is not the same as being able to handle every contingency. For example, I still remember my first camping trip. I was going to cook eggs for my breakfast. My mother sent me with two eggs and a full-sized cast iron frying pan. The pan was probably eight pounds.

Was I prepared? Sort of. But, would I recommend that course of action for new scouts. . .or anyone? Absolutely not.

I’ve done some strenuous hikes over the years. My family still does one every May where we do an eight mile hike into the mountains behind our house. The hike changes a few thousand feet in elevation during those eight miles. And since it’s a backpacking trip, we have to take everything with us: food, water, all gear.

Believe it or not, I’ve never once been tempted to take an eight pound frying pan on once of those hikes. My backpack for that trip typically weighs about 35 pounds. That includes water. A gallon of water weighs eight pounds.

One of the trips we did in the past was a hike to the top of Mt Timpanogos, the mountain that overshadows our small town. Like most of our hikes, we had to take everything with us, again, food water, gear. It was during that hike that I became lost for the first time in my camping career. I remember while wander around the high meadows and swamps of the backside of Timp. I was annoyed that I’d allowed myself to get lost. But, I had a plan. I gave myself a set time to find the path and decided if I couldn’t find it by early afternoon, I would simply camp. See, I had everything I needed; tent, sleeping back, food, water, stove.

I’ll be the best provisioned person the Search & Rescue teams ever find.

I was prepared. Fortunately, I found the path and rejoined the group shortly after.

That wasn’t the first time I’ve not had to use everything I took on a trip. I tend to over prepare.

So, you should always be prepared, right? Of course.

One of our scoutmasters used to take a pistol when we went into the backcountry. The biggest worry was bears. Not that you’d try to kill a bear with a pistol, but you could scare it. We also had to deal with moose, the most dangerous animal in North America, believe it or not. Moose kill more people than anything. And they are mean about it. They’ll stomp you just because they can.

Anyway, my friend took a pistol with him. That was 5-7 pounds of extra weight that he choose to take. Even if I had a pistol, I don’t think I would have taken it. But, you know what I do take on every campout? And actually, every trip and every day: a knife.

Do I need a knife every day? Of course not. But, I often do. Other than a trip to the airport, my knife is always with me.

I would rather have it and not need it, than need it and not have it.

I’m much more experienced than I was when I joined my first scout troop at 11. And therefore I’m better prepared when I go camping today. I think experience is simply understanding better what “prepared” means.

Stay safe and be prepared.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

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